WhatsApp Channel Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now

Maldives allows Chinese ships to dock, causing concern in India

Maldives and China Relations

The Maldives allowed the Chinese scientific research vessel Xiangyanghong 3 to dock in its waters as relations with India deteriorated. Although the Maldives claimed that the ship would not conduct detection in its waters, India remained concerned.

An unnamed Indian government source told the media: “India remains skeptical, and the ship’s docking will only deepen the differences between India and the Maldives over defense cooperation.”

India is suspicious of China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean region and is particularly suspicious of China’s influence in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. These two countries are strategically located in the middle of international shipping, connecting the East and the West.

Relations between the Maldives and New Delhi have soured since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won the election last year.

Indian security analysts regard the docking of Xiangyanghong 3 as a provocation by the Maldives against India. N. Sathiya Moorthy, a policy analyst and commentator who has been focusing on the Maldives, said in an interview with the media: “India and the United States have just persuaded Sri Lanka to announce a one-year ban on Chinese scientific research vessels. The entry ban was imposed in 2016, but the Maldives immediately took this action, which seems to be a diplomatic coup. This is completely a joint provocation by Beijing and the Maldives against India.”

He said: “China has long wanted to control the maritime conditions in the Indian Ocean, and the purpose is more likely to help control its submarines and assess the mineral resources here for possible commercial cooperation. But the timing of this action has important political strategy.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives issued a statement saying: “The Maldives has always welcomed the docking of ships from friendly countries and will continue to receive civilian and military vessels for peaceful purposes.”

Brahma Chellaney, a well-known geostrategic expert in India and professor of strategic studies at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, said: “This is Muizzu’s latest provocation, which is simply a mockery of the security concerns of India, a traditionally friendly country. It is unlikely that he will emerge unscathed from the consequences of this incident.”

MUST READ: ☞  Jonathan Majors's Arrest and Conviction: A Deep Dive into the Unfolding Drama

He said, “China is actively mapping the Indian Ocean seafloor and collecting seismic and hydrological data here to conduct submarine operations in India’s maritime backyard. And the Maldives, under its new, Islamist-leaning, pro-China president, are lending a helping hand to China’s actions.”

Indian government officials believe that the newly elected Maldivian President Muizzu is adopting unethical political methods in order to cater to local and external anti-India forces.

Kanwal Sibal, former Indian foreign minister, told the media: “It is puzzling why the Maldives wants to throw away diplomatic relations that are vital to its own interests. India as a friendly federation at sea In terms of security, we are closely linked to the Maldives.”

Schieber pointed out that President Muizzu had trouble with India as soon as he came to power: “He asked India to withdraw its military personnel before March 15. He has abrogated the hydrographic exploration agreement between India and the Maldives. The Maldives stopped participating in the National Security Advisor-level Colombo Security Summit, which was originally co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Mauritius.”

Maldives asks India to withdraw troops by mid-March as dispute intensifies

Muizzu’s government has claimed that Chinese military-linked vessels will not conduct oceanographic research in Maldivian waters. However, Indian officials have dismissed this claim as ridiculous because the Maldives does not have the capability to detect such activities.

According to information from Marine Traffic, the Xiangyanghong 3 left Sanya Port in the southernmost tip of China’s Hainan Province on January 16 and is scheduled to arrive in Male, the capital of the Maldives, on February 8. The vessel is expected to conduct exploration in the Indian Ocean for five months, from January to May this year.

Muizzu gave the green light to the Xiangyanghong 3 scientific research vessel just days before his state visit to China. Before that, Maldives Vice President Hussein Mohamed Latif visited China in December last year and participated in the “China-Indian Ocean Regional Development Cooperation Forum” organized by the China International Development Cooperation Agency.

MUST READ: ☞  Zelensky's Global Diplomacy at Davos Summit

India has issued similar warnings to Sri Lanka about Chinese research vessels in the past. At the beginning of this new year, Sri Lanka announced a ban on the Chinese scientific research vessel “Xiang Yanghong 3” from entering its territorial waters. China responded immediately, claiming that the decision was the result of diplomatic pressure from India.

Murthy pointed out that the Maldives first asked India to withdraw its military personnel and then allowed a Chinese scientific research ship to dock at its port, which was a clear provocation to India: “This is sending a message to India that China ‘does not interfere in internal affairs.'”. More importantly, it tells India that the Maldives has a bigger partner.”

In response to the Maldives’ request that India withdraw its military personnel stationed on aviation platforms, the two countries held a core group meeting on January 14. India’s Ministry of External Affairs said that during the meeting, the two sides discussed finding a “mutually feasible solution” to ensure that Indian aviation platforms can continue to provide humanitarian relief and medical services to the Maldives.

“The president of the Maldives seems to believe that China is the patron saint of their development frontier, but he does not realize that what China brings are huge and useless projects that cannot provide the jobs, family income, and government revenue that local people need.”

During Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu’s state visit to China from January 8 to 12, 2024, the two countries signed 20 key agreements. As soon as Muizzu returned home, he claimed that the agreement he signed with the Chinese government would help the Maldives expand agricultural production to meet the needs of food security.

Former Indian Foreign Minister Kanwar Shiber pointed out: “After Muizzu returned from China, his remarks became more aggressive and explicit, weakening relations with India.”

The agreement signed by Muizzu with China includes the launch of a specific agricultural project in Usuru Tirafalu. This project will ensure that the most commonly used agricultural products grown locally can feed at least 200,000 people.

MUST READ: ☞  European Union special summit unanimously approves 50 billion euros in aid to Ukraine

Observers said the choice of alliance with China appeared to be Muizzu’s remedy for the Maldives’s response to challenges posed by tensions with India. However, over-reliance on China also has unavoidable risks.

There are already concerns that the Maldives will fall into a Chinese debt trap and that Chinese projects may lead to corruption. The Maldives already owes more than US$1.3 billion in debt to China, accounting for 20% of its total debt.

Yet Muizzu seems determined to break away from dependence on India. In addition to urging Indian troops to leave the island, his government has chosen not to renew a hydrographic survey agreement with India. The agreement was signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the Maldives in 2019 and was once regarded as a symbol of the defense relations between India and the Maldives.

The Maldives relies heavily on India for basic food supplies and medical care. But Muizzu has announced that the country’s health insurance scheme will allow Maldivians to receive treatment in Thailand and Dubai, even if this will significantly increase costs. He also plans to import staple foods such as rice, sugar, and flour from other countries, such as Turkey. Whether this is sustainable remains to be seen.

Tensions with New Delhi escalated sharply earlier this month when three of Muizzu’s deputy ministers called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “clown” and a “terrorist” in social media posts.

maldives 1

Bollywood actors and some of India’s cricket greats have also responded, calling on fellow countrymen to boycott their southern neighbor, the Maldives, and book their next holiday closer to home. The Maldives has always been a popular tourist destination for many Indians.

Exciting news! Meritnews24 is now on WhatsApp Channels  Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest insights!”Click here!

Leave a Comment

WhatsApp Channel Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now